Four of the Best 3D Printers for Kids and Teens

The Best 3D Printers for Kids

Why buy a 3D Printer for a child?

3D Printing is no longer a complicated hobby! Anyone can get started.

It’s a very relevant technology, as just about all present industries, from automobiles to smartphones, from jewelry to handicap aids, 3D printing has been used daily.

This is the reason it's an excellent idea to introduce your children to the technology today.

Let’s take a look at why you should encourage your children to take up this hobby…

3D Printing Encourages Creativity

The significant advantage of 3D printing is that the immediacy of having a finished product in your hands within hours. What this does is to accelerate the traditional design cycle of:

  • Invent  
  • Plan
  • Create
  • Optimize
  • Improve

To a Child dipping their feet into the world of Engineering, this is an enormous benefit as it gives them hands-on expertise of how all products are designed and fabricated. This is what we Engineers live for!

Seeing the design that has been in their mind a couple of hours back being turned into a real physical thing which they can hold in their hands and use in the way they envisioned is exciting! It is the best way to show your children how fun engineering could be.

And Why would not you want your children to be Engineers?! The current starting salary for Engineering graduates in 2018 is $65000 (which is the very high compared to other fields) climbing to a career average of about $100,000, and they'll contribute to society with a fulfilling career!

3D Printing is the Future of Manufacturing

Schools are slow to adapt to new technology. It is not their fault, they are normally dependent upon insufficient funding and need to adhere to program guidelines set by the government. This is the reason your children are still taught similar courses to those you and I were, decades ago.

At Junior through to high school, if you are lucky your kids learn metalwork and woodwork, they have a go at vacuum forming some plastic, they may get to try out some injection molding or how to operate a CNC lathe, but they are very unlikely to get their hands on a 3D printer.

If they do go to an excellent school which has access to a 3D printer, it's unlikely to be a recent version. 3D printing has evolved a lot in the last ten decades! They might well be left frustrated when the finished part takes hours to build and resembles one of my Great British Bake-off efforts as opposed to the exact replication they were anticipating.

In this guide, I've chosen and reviewed the 3D printers that I think are an ideal option for your kids and categorized my reviews depending on the age group they are acceptable for.

To help you decide which 3D Printer you ought to buy, I have looked at all of the models available in 2018 which are designed primarily for kids or are acceptable for children and teens according to my own experiences.

Best 3D Printers for Kids - 2018


In the table below I rated the four printers which I will be advocating in this article:

Name

Score

Summary

Age Group

Where to Buy

da vinci minimaker

XYZ's DaVinci Minimaker 

4.5 out of 5

The most kid-friendly 3D printer of 2018

Younger kids

flashforge finder

Flashforge Finder

4 out of 5

Great for kids and beginners, has WiFi and an LED screen

Younger kids

 Monoprice Mini V2

4 out of 5

Better suited for older kids, budget option

Older kids

sindoh 3d printer opened

Sindoh 3DWOX DP200 3D Printer

3 out of 5

Too expensive, not suitable for small kids

Older kids


For each printer you will see an overall score out of 5, with a few pros and cons for good measure.

And now without further ado, let’s take a look at Pen and Plastic’s round-up of best 3D printers for kids currently on the market.

1: XYZPrinting Da Vinci MiniMaker


As you can see from the photographs, it's a very kindergarden look that I think is terrific for younger children.

This makes them see it more as a toy than a dull educational tool while children approaching their teens won't tihnk its too uncool! 

There's a similar version called only the Da Vinci Mini that is a more subdued orange color but costs about $30 more because it comes with WiFi. 

I would recommend it if you think your children may be put off by the childish colors but I would not pay the extra just for WiFi.

da vinci minimaker

Pen and Plastic Rating

"Best budget option for small kids"

Setup

I Do not think I've ever managed to prepare a 3D printer faster than I could with the Da Vinci miniMaker!

You plug in certain USB and power cables just like you have to with any computer hardware, snap at the printhead, feed the filament tube to the printhead and... that's it!

The filament auto-feeds, and there's no calibration required.

The directions that came in the box were kind of lo-fi black and white printouts that seemed like the final minute'oops we forgot to include instructions let's throw something in the box' choice, but they do the job as the installation is so easy you do not need anything fancier.

I suggest looking at these movies on XYZ's site before trying to set this up with the printouts alone.

Software

The miniMaker does not use the industry standard G-code, and thus your only alternative is to use the provided XYZware program.

This beginner package is a significant limitation for inquisitive young minds that learn fast, but is exactly what makes it such a "guaranteed to work out of the box" success.

The bundled XYZware is relatively simple to use, but it just lacks a little bit of feedback, so you're left wondering whether you want to click again or proceed to another step.

Useful Information is displayed such as how much filament your version will use and how long it will take to construct.

All of us know how impatient little ones could be, so it is great to have the ability to give them an estimate of how long they might need to wait.

minimaker dimensions

Printing

There Are some versions included with the XYZ applications which function well as test pieces, but I suggest heading over to Thingiverse to download some more intriguing pieces.

I printed two figurines and had great results. The parts ended up extremely well detailed. The quality impressed me for such a cheap machine.

During printing, the miniMaker is especially silent for an open-sided machine, you wouldn't want to place it in your bedroom overnight though!

What I didn't like

There's one big negative using the miniMaker, and that is the fact you can use XYZ branded filament. This is bad since the branded filament is more expensive than other makes and there might be times when you need to print a color that's not in the XYZ range.

I can See why the producer has done this. As an entry printer, it completely avoids the chance of someone attempting to use the wrong sort of filament and messing up the machine. It just feels a little bit too 'Big Brother' for my liking.

The machine keeps checks on the filament type used by integrating a processor in the filament reel which records how much filament has been used, so in case you refill with another brand, the machine will report there isn't any filament and will not work.

There Are not any ways around this without some rather intricate replacement of the primary circuit board so that you should bear this in mind when purchasing the miniMaker.

Please do not let it put you off as much as you'll shortly see it takes a while to empty one of those filament reels, a worth while sacrifica considering the MiniMaker only costs $300.

Technical Specifications

RESOLUTION
100-400 microns
VOLUME
5.9 x 5.9 x 5.9 inches
​PRINT SPEED
100mm/second
FILAMENT TYPE
PLA
​AGE GROUP
Age Group: 14+ (8+ with adult supervision) 
CONNECT
USB
HEATED BED
No

Pros

  • Best for small kids
  • Prints ​eco-friendly PLA
  • Big print size
  • Easy to use software
  • Cheapest in review

Cons

  • Only one extruder
  • No heated bed, does not print ABS

Verdict

The XYZ miniMaker is great 3D Printer for younger children and non-tech educated parents. It pretty much prints out of the box with very little fuss.

The disadvantage to this simplicity is your children could grow out of it fairly quickly especially if they're in their teens when more complex models and fine-tuning of installation aren't possible.

2: Flashforge Finder



Of all of the 3D printers in this review, this is the one which seems almost like it was designed for everyday home users. 

Its chunky red plastic frame gives it a satisfyingly sturdy feel, the motors and drivetrain are largely hidden away and while it appears quite futuristic. 

It also just does not look out of place sat in my desk beside the everyday tech of now, if it were not for the sound I would not mind having this sat in my living room.

The front of the machine is a gorgeous clear color touchscreen, complete the Flashforge Finder looks decidedly unintimidating, perfect for less tech-savvy folks. 

Finder-Features

Pen and Plastic Rating

"Best hassle-free  option for non-tech-savvy folks.."

Setup

A User Manual is included on the USB stick that comes with the printer. But on first use, the touch screen conveniently walks you through the initial setup of leveling the printing bed by telling one to twist the adjustment nuts completely down and then one by one as it steps each corner it lets you raise each nut till a beep informs you the appropriate height was reached.

This is a very smart but simple system that turns what could be a frustrating process to a complete doddle.

Loading The filament was somewhat trickier just because quite a great deal of force must pull the filament through the extruder and the manual explicitly states to not use too much pressure! Getting this right on the first go is improbable but as soon as you understand how it should feel it is no problem.

flashforge finder printing

Software

The Finder includes its FlashPrint applications for preparing (slicing) versions. I think it's very good, the fully automated cutting edge and support generator operate nicely, and manual options like temperature and printing rate are available for when your children want to proceed to the next level of part design.

Standard features like substance usage quotes are included. Using the manual settings, FlashPrint is a lot more advanced than the XZYware which accompanies the DaVinci miniMaker. This should give most teens enough freedom to make before they pick that 3D printing is their dream career and begin begging you to purchase a BCN3D Sigma...

FlashPrint Also has a couple of gimmicks like'2D into 3D' that permits you to create an approximate 3D model from a 2D picture, by way of instance, you can turn a photograph of your face to a model, while this is not likely to work flawlessly it's a fun enough exercise.

Printing

This is a hassle-free 3D Printer. Using the default settings, my initial build completed in a little under an hour. This is the only 3D printer I have had to check on to see if it is working as it is so quiet! Heat up time is fast, being able to take out the plate to employ blue tape is a fantasy.

One of the simplest yet most useful features of this printer is the removable build plate! It is crazy to think that this is not a feature available on most of the consumer-oriented 3D printers.

Being able to remove your components from the build plate whenever it's sat safely on your desk is so much easier than reaching in the machine.

 It just feels like a better way for children to see their assembles removed from the printer using a gentle slide it generates a 'wow' moment as opposed to 15 minutes of frustration as you cope with scraping bits of tape in a restricted space.

The failure rate of builds with this printer is also fantastic, very near zero for me after a few weeks of use that's extremely impressive.

What I didn't like

Although the FlashForge Finder is pleased to take additional Manufacturers of PLA filament the on-board filament holder is a bit smaller than standard.

If you Do choose another brand you'll have to keep the spool holder from the machine for example on a shelf to the side or over it, in actuality, there are a few cool spool holder designs on the Thingiverse so that you can create your own!

Technical Specifications

RESOLUTION
100 microns
VOLUME
6″ x 6″ x 6″
​DISPLAY
4 inch LED screen
TYPE
PLA only
​AGE​S
13 or 8 under adult supervision
CONNECT
USB/SD Card
HEATED BED
No


Pros

  • Easy to use
  • WiFi Connectivity
  • Closed printer
  • Clever LCD screen
  • Excellent customer support and product reputation

Cons

  • Can only print PLA
  • Single Extruder

Verdict

The FlashForge Finder is the sort of 3D printer which in a couple of years time you will be picking up from Target and Staples without another thought just like you do now use a 2D printer.

It pretty much plugs and plays and combined with excellent support from the manufacturer it is the perfect choice if you would like to give your family a hassle-free entrance to the world of 3D printing.

Additionally, it has enough flexibility it is going to be a fantastic few years ahead of your adolescent's skills grow beyond its abilities.

I Also wish to add that lots of owners have reported that the customer support at FlashForge to be outstanding with very prompt and helpful answers to client inquiries usually obtained within only a couple hours.

This is particularly important as you begin to experiment with new filaments and more innovative slicing things can fail, so it is reassuring to know real help is an email away.

We also reviewed the Flashforge Finder in our best 3d printers under $500 review, spoiler alert: it also stacks up favorably against the competition in that price bracket.

3: Monoprice Select Mini V2



In a word..sturdy! The Monoprice Select Mini is mainly sheet steel structure, it is basic, but in a satisfyingly industrial manner with no effort made to conceal bolt heads.

However, The significant moving parts are nicely covered to prevent damage or injury. It seems like it belongs in a laboratory with a white coated tech operating it. I like this, and I am pretty certain science loving teenagers will also! 

The full-color screen is extremely impressive and by far the clearest I've seen on any sub $1000 printer, it is not touch screen but it does have a nice tactile clicky wheel near it all mounted onto a fancy brushed steel plate.

Pen and Plastic Rating

"Best budget option foradolescents and tech-savvy parents."

Be aware this printer does not include any filament; some shops state that it includes a sample filament, but this is not enough to create any model with so you will want to factor in an additional $25ish for a 1kg reel of PLA filament. ​

The fantastic thing about this printer is you are free to use any brand of filament so that you can shop around for the best value; I suggest taking a look at our filament guide to make the right choice.

Setup

No Instructions were included in the box so I needed to obtain a pdf on the Monoprice site (for reference you can find them here).

The Manual states it comes pre-calibrated but user reports suggest you need to do some tweaking to the constructed table to get it level, this is not a tough process it's only a little tedious and is something which will have to be carried out by a cautious older adult or teen. Feeding the filament is small fiddly (similar to this sentence!) Itis not difficult it is simply not easy to tell as soon as you've completed it successfully. Some users have reported cutting the end of the filament with an angle might help.

Software

Monoprice Recommends using Cura, Repetier, Replicator-G or Simplify3D applications, which is astonishing compatibility. All are highly regarded, and a person used to computers will have no problem navigating their way around a number of these with some practice.

I'd Urge Cura since it can prepare components for you or provide you total manual control and everything in between. Having the ability to use third-party applications is one of the huge advantages of this Select Mini since it opens up a whole world of innovative configurations and CAD model preparation that's no different to what's done in industry.

Printing

This 3D printer is fairly loud; I would say you'll have to have the ability to keep it in a room which you could walk out of and shut the door on. It will have an SD card slot, and I would advise that you move files to it this way. Then you can keep your computer or notebook separate from it builds away; the large color LCD makes this a doddle.

The test part printed quickly, and without any issues, the quality is excellent, and with a few tweaks to the build, it could easily be improved. The construct speed is a bit on the slow side, but this is because the Z-resolution is rather high so is the price you pay high quality.

You have a ton of freedom with the minimaker! Fiddle with the settings to reach a compromise between speed and quality.

This 3D printer is fairly loud; I would say you'll have to have the ability to keep it in a room which you could walk out of and shut the door on. It will have an SD card slot, and I would advise that you move files to it this way. Then you can keep your computer or notebook separate from it builds away; the large color LCD makes this a doddle.

The test part printed quickly, and without any issues, the quality is excellent, and with a few tweaks to the build, it could easily be improved. The construct speed is a bit on the slow side, but this is because the Z-resolution is rather high so is the price you pay high quality.

What I didn't like

Although Monoprice state it is possible to construct using ABS filament, I need to state my test pieces weren't that effective and I think it's because the heated bed doesn't get hot enough.

The specs state a maximum bed temperature of 140°F, but ABS wants something closer to 220°F. If you think you will need to print ABS components, then I'd suggest looking at another machine.

However, this fact shouldn't undermine the quality of the printer when using PLA material, I'd suggest thinking of this as a PLA just printer, and therefore, it's still a bargain.

Technical Specifications

PRINTING SPEED55 mm/s
VOLUME
4.7" x 4.7" x 4.7"
​DISPLAY
3.7inch LED
TYPE
PLA and ABS
​RECOMMENDED AGE
+13 years
CONNECT
USB/SD Card/WIFI
HEATED BED
Yes (not hot enough for ABS)


Pros

  • Easy to use
  • WiFi Connectivity
  • Closed printer
  • Clever LCD screen
  • Excellent customer support and product reputation

Cons

  • Can only print PLA
  • Single Extruder

Verdict

If You're looking to purchase a first 3D Printer to get a teenager, do not look any farther than the Monoprice Select Mini. It's excellent value for money at about $200. This printer has its quirks but nothing that would make you regret purchasing it. If your children have shown any interest in technology and you have only the smallest amount of practical capability to repair the odd thing which may go wrong then this printer is a winner.

Engineering Is about solving problems, and this 3D printer is a tool which gives you the power and freedom to do that, and I am confident it will turn just about any curious young mind in an Engineer. Bargain of the year!

4: Sindoh 3DWOX DP 200


Unlike Most 3D printers, you will see the DP200 appears more like a home appliance than a piece of laboratory equipment.

The Large translucent front opening makes it seem something like a toaster!

All The mechanics and filament spool are included inside the printer, so from the outside, it is clear that this is a 3D printer developed for using instead of tinkering with.

The Plastic panels that hide the inner systems feel quite solid and give you a great sense that this is a well-tested item.

sindoh 3d printer opened

Pen and Plastic Rating

"Too complicated for small kids, and not as good as the competition in the higher price range"

The filament is contained inside the printer body, it is somewhat bigger than a few of its rivals. But its uniform block shape makes it a lot easier to keep on a desk beside you than more open designs which need space for one to get filaments and removable covers.

The Bigger footprint thankfully means the DP200 also has a very generous build volume. In 8.3″ x 7.9″ x 7.3″, it is one of the greatest for a house spec 3D printer. Therefore, if you have some large models in mind, the DP201 will deal well.

Setup

The DP200 comes fully assembled, so the initial steps are plugging it in, including the filament and calibrating the mattress.

Like The FlashForge Finder, the color display guides you through the calibration procedure. This makes it a super simple job.

One Of the important advantages of the 3DWOX DP200 is the filament comes in a cartridge which you slip into your 3d printer, much like a traditional paper printer.

This Filament cartridge system massively simplifies one of the major manual processes which other 3D printers have problems with. This means you're not as likely to suffer from problems due to the improperly loaded filament in addition to making the process only have a matter of seconds.

Thanks To each of these innovations built into the DP200, moving from unboxing to your initial 3D print should not take more than about 20 minutes!

Software

The DP200 includes Sindoh's own 3DWOX Desktop slicing software. It has two modes, simple and innovative, which give you as much control over your document preparation as you desire.

The simple mode is well-designed and will provide you with dependable, quality prints in many circumstances.

As you get more information, you can proceed to advanced mode and begin playing with the settings to know more about 3D print preparation and also further enhance the quality of your prints.

You can also use the free and highly regarded Cura software with the DP200 with its built-in profile which will provide you with optimum settings for your printer.

Printing

Once you have sent your 3D print document to your printer, there is not any more to do other than press launch.

You can even watch the progress of your 3D print remotely, due to a built-in webcam within the printer!

Although It sounds like a small gimmick, it is quite a handy feature which lets you do your life while just periodically assessing your prints advancement.

The DP200 is a silent 3D printer, at approximately 50 dB, the completely enclosed workings sound like a normal office printer.

Once Your prints are done, eliminating them is extremely easy due to a removable and flexible print bed. You must bend the mattress, and the prints will peel off.

When using the standard high-quality settings, the printing quality is wonderful. Little details are rendered perfectly with only a hint of coating lines.

At Maximum quality, a coating thickness of 0.05mm is achievable which leads to stunning part quality that you're unlikely to be able to fault.

Printing

The DP200 is only going to work with Sindoh's filaments. This means that you are limited to the colors and materials they choose to make available. This is done to make sure you use filaments that will work reliably on your printer.

Fortunately, The Sindoh filaments are of top quality and will lead to the most dependable prints. Unlike some other proprietary filaments, they're also very competitively priced, and you do not need to get a whole cartridge every time.

You can purchase a refill spool which you insert inside your current cartridge.

The DP200 can print with ABS; you want to consider venting, as the fumes given off are somewhat toxic. As a result of this, you need to keep it in a living room which has good ventilation or invest in an air purifier. See my post on ventilating your 3D printer.

Technical Specifications

RESOLUTION
100 microns
VOLUME
~7.9" x 7.9" x 7.3"
​SCREEN SIZE
5 inch color screen
TYPE
PLA/ABS
​AGE GROUP
Older kids
CONNECT
SD Card/USB/WIFI
HEATED BED
Yes


Pros

  • Great for kids
  • The most affordable printer in this review
  • Safe, uses a closed printing build

Cons

  • Can only print with PLA
  • Print quality not comparable with the Robo 3D R1 for example
  • times-circle-o
    No heated bed or auto-leveling feature 

Verdict

If You do not mind splashing the cash, then you can not go wrong purchasing the Sindoh 3DWOX DP200. Although it is a very capable, close professional grade machine, the competition in the sub $1000 bracket simply out competes it.

This printer is also not suitable for small children. However, if your teenaged son or daughter has some 3D printing expertise,  then this is an excellent gift for them.

The DP200 is also a superb choice for parents who wish to treat themselves! Find out how to use it yourself and then teach your children what you know. 

Conclusion

3D Printing is a really rewarding hobby that tens of thousands of adults are taking up, but don't just let your children have all of the fun! 

Buying a 3D printer is a great excuse to spend some money on yourself while being the hero dad / mom that got his or her kid a fancy new toy!

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